Lost in the hoopla of Paul George’s homecoming this week was that Dwight Howard also made his return to Staples Center. Of course, it’s understandable, considering the Los Angeles Lakers fan base reveres George and largely despises Howard.
And if there was any doubt, fans made that crystal clear during respective lineup introductions on Wednesday and Friday. George was cheered as if he already plays for the Lakers, and Howard was soundly booed.
“I don’t think about it. At some point they get over it,” Howard said of the treatment he received. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the Charlotte Hornets’ 108-94 rout.
The loss was the Lakers’ ninth in a row and 12th in the past 13 games. Their losing streak is longer than two separate eight-game skids they endured last season.
The franchise has largely been in a downturn since the 2012-13 season, Howard’s only year with the Lakers. Injuries and chemistry issues derailed what was expected to be a championship campaign.
Nonetheless, the Lakers went all-out in their free-agency pitch to Howard, but he was ultimately moved to sign with the Houston Rockets. Now in his fifth year removed from playing for the Lakers, Howard has been jeered in each game at Staples Center.
Howard maintains he “had a good time” playing for the Lakers, but couldn’t refrain from again referencing a lack of appreciation for pushing through injuries. “I thought I played very well despite coming off of back surgery and also tearing a labrum, which I guess means nothing to people,” he added.
“Other than that, it’s always fun to come here and play in L.A.”
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